Part One (b): Who was Suetonius?
Now that we’ve gotten to know Plutarch, let’s ask: Who was Suetonius?
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus was born ca. 70 AD, at the ascendancy of the Flavian dynasty (emperors Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian). Unlike Plutarch, Suetonius was born a Roman citizen into an equestrian family. His father initially served as tribune in the short-lived faction of emperor Otho before defecting with his legion to Vespasian in 69 AD. Having grown up in Rome, Suetonius relied on the patronage of Pliny the Younger throughout his career and in support of his efforts as an author.
Suetonius held three positions in the service of the courts of emperors Trajan and Hadrian (98-138 AD): he oversaw research, the imperial library, and managing imperial correspondence. He maintained these roles until his dismissal from the imperial court after falling to disfavor, allegedly for some breach in propriety with the emperor’s wife. Nevertheless, his career gave him unparalleled access to…
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